The Ottawa Senators may have just played the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the biggest breaking news regarding the team happened off the ice. Yahoo Sports reports the franchise might be put up for sale.
We say “might” because the team has hired Galatioto Sports Partners to explore the sale. That’s normally the first step in any franchise sale, meaning the Senators are almost ensuring will be changing hands.
News of the sale wasn’t entirely unexpected. After all, ever since former owner Eugen Melnyk died earlier this year, the franchise has been “owned” by his two daughters who are both in their twenties. Day-to-day operations are currently run by a three-person board.
The less-than-optimal ownership structure, along with the added expectation the franchise would be sold in the near future, didn’t stop the Senators from having a successful offseason. Ottawa was the team with the greatest increase in value (percentage-wise) among NHL team evaluations.
The Melnyk family has begun to sell the Ottawa Senators.
The Melnyk family’s legacy with the Senators will forever be controversial, although Eugene Melnyk did want the franchise did remain in his family.
How much the Senators will sell for remains to be seen. Sportico values them at $655 million, but those figures are pretty much estimated guesses. For reference, last season the Pittsburgh Penguins were sold for $900 million. They were valued at $650 million just a year before.
Even if we’re not entirely sure of a dollar amount, the most pressing sign for the Senators is that they’re ranked last in value out of the NHL’s seven Canadian clubs.
One of the things keeping these team values in flux is the league’s recovery from COVID. This season is the first in three years where every team is expected to play a full 82-game schedule without attendance restrictions in any arena.
The fact the salary cap might finally go up a somewhat substantial amount helps as well. The fluctuation between the American and Canadian dollar could potentially complicate things, although way-too-early reaction to the news doesn’t seem to have it as a major factor.
The Senators also find themselves in a similar situation as the Arizona Coyotes. The Senators have long wanted a new arena closer to downtown Ottawa, so their long-term future outlook depends on a new stadium, much like the Coyotes.
The Coyotes themselves have also been rumored to be for sale over the last season. Even if the situation at Canadian Tire Center isn’t optimal, it still lacks the drama the Coyotes had with Gila River arena and settling for Mullet Arena.
Fans would love to think a white knight who loves hockey and the Ottawa Senators will sweep in and take over the franchise, not unlike billionaire Steve Cohen did with the New York Mets baseball team. The unfortunate truth is that’s not how teams are sold.
A billionaire with a huge checkbook who sees hockey as an investment will most likely be the next owner of the Senators. Who that billionaire is, and how much of their money it costs, remains to be seen.